Certificate students Sarah Margerum brings us this review of a recent museum event. If you’d like to review museum events for the Tufts blog, drop us a line in the comments!
This past Saturday, October 8, Historic New England hosted Tales and Ales, a fun-filled evening of food, ale, and learning about the sordid side of Newbury’s fascinating past. The evening was led by Bethany Groff, North Shore Regional Director for Historic New England, whose enthusiasm for the event was positively contagious. The Swett-Ilsley House, part of which dates back to the 1670s, was originally built as Swett’s Tavern. The evening began in the original tavern space, crammed with guests, snacks, ale, and period-appropriate live music. After a warm welcome, everyone was ushered into a larger space with rough tables and benches and served a hearty meal of chicken, ham and root vegetables – eaten with our hands, of course. Guests were picked at random to rise and make a toast, resulting in much more merriment than any modern bar scene. Thoroughly satiated, we then returned to the original tavern where guests were given parts to play in the reading of actual transcripts from the Essex County Quarterly Court. Better than any fictional drama, Newbury’s 17th century residents were brought to life through the colorful quarrels and sometimes shocking events of their time. Powerless to resist Bethany’s enthusiasm, participants played their parts proudly and with bravado. The night ended with everyone in attendance joyfully singing traditional tavern songs. Look for the next Tales and Ales event next spring and buy tickets immediately. This event sells out quickly and it’s too wonderful to miss!